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Pachyderms on the pitch

The 2018 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament is set to kick off from March 8 to 11 on the banks of Chao Phraya River, next to Anantara Riverside Bangkok, with a full range of fun elephant festivities for the whole family.

Now in its 16th edition, the festival has become one of the biggest charitable events in Southeast Asia with approximately US$1.5 million (Bt50 million) raised to date, which has gone to various charities that benefits the elephants of Thailand. These include housing for the mahouts and families, shelters for the elephants and a mobile blood centrifuge and elephant ambulance for the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC).

Funds from this year’s event will be donated to various projects including the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand, which supports veterinary and educational projects to improve the year-round lives of elephants and mahouts in the Surin Province. The donations have also funded workshops for mahouts and vets on how to keep elephants happy as well as a conservation education trip to a national park for children and next generation of hereditary mahouts to learn the importance of elephants in the wild and many more.

Pachyderms on the pitch

A total of 20 former street elephants will take part in the event, during which they will receive full veterinary checks from the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand and the Department of Livestock Development.

Other highlights include an impressive opening parade, food markets and live bands and DJs.

The welfare of the elephants that participate in the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament is of paramount importance, with strict rules ensuring that the pachyderms are well cared for at all times. By imposing a “no micro-chip, no game” rule, the organiser Anantara Hotels and Resorts guarantees that all participating elephants have been domestically bred and not captured from the wild or smuggled in from neighbouring countries.

Pachyderms on the pitch

Each elephant is limited to a maximum of half an hour play per day, with at least 90 minutes out relaxing or eating a well-balanced meal between each 14-minute game. Due to the nature of the game those 14 minutes of exercise are generally spread over a whole hour – even in a game with no stoppages there is a 15-minute break between halves.

Anantara has long been associated with elephant conservation efforts with the formation of The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, which has performed over 60 rescues of elephants off the streets of Thailand. 

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Published : February 17, 2018

By : The Nation